Take my pediatrician, for example. He not only juggles two very busy consultancies, but he also works at the hospital. He has told me he managed to take on such a huge workload because of his ADD!
I’m a full-time journalist and full-time mother of three. I work from home. I run the house. I go to the gym. The kids have a mix of activities and sport and I still put in around 30 hours a week pitching, chasing and writing articles for national publications. Just last week I was nominated for a Kennedy Journalism Award for Excellence in Journalism. You know what? It’s because of my ADD that I manage to jump from one task to the next without hesitation.
Of course, it wasn’t always like that. School was particularly difficult for me. Having a teacher stand at the front of the class talking just didn’t work. After just a few minutes all I could hear was white noise. And in turn I got bored and distracted.
But as an adult I have found ways to study that work well and have been teaching those same self-management tips to my 11-year-old daughter who has also been diagnosed. They may also help you or your child.
Bite size study
The most useful tip I can offer is not to overwhelm yourself with hours and hours of work. That’s not to say you can’t do long stints. You just have to break them down to more manageable “bite-sized” tasks. I often set myself 45 minutes at a time. More often than not, once I’m started, I go way past that. But in my mind, that’s what’s going to happen and it helps calm my wandering thoughts.
Ready, steady, go!
Setting a timer actually supports that, too. Using your phone or one of those large egg timers also works. Being able to focus on the time helps you finish tasks within the limits you set. Make sure you can see the timer to keep you on track.
Another trick that helps to limit distractions is to take temptation away. If your social media apps are within reach, it’s too easy to join in with online chats or comment on your mate’s holiday snaps. Just delete the app for a few hours or pop it in a locked folder so you don’t open it mindlessly.
Both my daughter and I have had great success with tutors. My daughter was barely passing Maths at school in Year 5 so we decided to get a tutor. Having that one-on-one support for a short period was life changing for her. According to the recent NAPLAN results, she is now in the top 10 per cent for her year level in the country and top of her year at school. That’s all down to the private lessons she received, giving her that extra time to sort it out in her own mind. She had the capacity. She just needed the patience and guidance.
Let me hear you!
I also encourage thinking out loud. When I finish an article or an email or my daughter has done her homework or completed a project, we read it out loud. It may not seem like much if you don’t have ADD, but it’s now an essential part of study or work for both of us.
Jonica Bray is a journalist, mum of three and has the gift of ADD. You can follow her family’s journey on Instagram @The.Wandertwins where she shares inspiring and lighthearted insights about raising her Twiblings – brothers born just five months apart.